Maps are representations of reality and include information to enhance your understanding of the world around you. Maps can incorporate the third dimension through contours, hillshading, and profile view elements, but ultimately, maps are limited in how much vertical information they can convey.
In cases where the vertical axis is important, ArcGIS Pro includes the ability to tilt up your 2D map and view spatial relationships in a 3D scene. This makes the data more understandable and helps reveal new insights in the process.
Working in 3D can incorporate real-world elements with your content, highlighting influences such as the undulations of the terrain and the 3D extent of features such as trees, buildings, and subsurface geology. Additionally, the display of quantitative GIS content, such as population, temperature, or relative occurrences of an event, can often be communicated more effectively in a 3D view.
View modes for scenes
ArcGIS Pro includes the following two viewing modes for scenes:
- Global mode—Used for large extent, real-world content where the curvature of the earth is an important element
- Local mode—Used for smaller extent content in a projected coordinate system, or in cases where the curvature of the earth isn't needed
When you import an ArcGlobe or ArcScene document into ArcGIS Pro, the .3dd file opens by default in global mode, and the .sxd file opens in local mode. Any new blank scene view in ArcGIS Pro defaults to global mode. You can, however, customize the default settings for new maps and scenes.
Make a 3D scene
One of the main advantages of ArcGIS Pro is its integrated 2D-3D environment, which allows you to work with your data, maps, and scenes alongside one another. You can quickly switch between maps and scenes as well as link them together for a synchronized viewing experience.
2D draped content is shown in the 2D Layers category in the Contents pane, and all 3D layers are in the 3D Layers category. KML layers have their own category in scenes, KML Layers, because a KML layer can contain both 2D and 3D nodes in the same file.
Convert a map to a scene
When creating a 3D scene, you may often start from a 2D map you've already authored. To convert an existing imported map, use the Catalog pane, expand the Maps node, right-click the map, and click Convert to Scene . If you have the map currently open as a view, on the View tab, in the View group, click Convert.
When you convert a map to a scene, the existing map remains unchanged, and a new scene item is created in your project. All of the layers within the new scene were copied from the map and can now be viewed as updated within the 3D view. For tips on what to expect when you convert from 2D to 3D, see Common questions about maps in ArcGIS Pro.
Add 3D symbology to 2D layers
By default, some layers initially display as 2D layers within the scene. These layers drape on to the ground surface of the scene, such as aerial imagery, and will not have any 3D symbology. The Contents pane lists these layers in the 2D Layers category.
To apply 3D symbology to a layer, such as building footprints or showing lines as tubes, drag the layer into the 3D Layers group in the Contents pane.
For more information, see Extrude features to 3D symbology.
When first displaying any layer in 3D, it's important to set the elevation properties so the features appear at the correct height within the view. The primary options are: on the ground, relative to a surface, or at an absolute height. Elevation settings are available on the Elevation tab on the Layer Properties dialog box.
Link maps and scenes together
You can view 2D and 3D representations of your data at the same time by docking a map view and a scene view side-by-side. For tighter integration, link the navigation of the views together by enabling the Link Views option on the View tab.
Note that a map and a scene are actually separate items in the project, even if they reference the same source data. This means that changing the layer visibility in a map or a scene will not impact the layer visibility in another view. Feature edits, on the other hand, update all views of that data.
A unique element to authoring scenes is that you can also define illumination properties. This includes properties such as the time of day, whether or not the sun casts a shadow, and how much ambient light is used. In global mode, you can also simulate atmospheric diffusion.
You can access these illumination properties for maps and scenes by right-clicking the scene in the Contents pane, clicking Properties, and clicking the Illumination tab.
Scenes also support the definition of one or more surfaces upon which to place other content. Every scene has a default elevation surface called Ground, and you can define as many other surfaces as you need—for example, Geology 1, Geology 2, Ozone, and so on. Each surface can have multiple data sources that describe it, including rasters, TINs, and elevation services. You can even create thematic surfaces from analytical results, such as crime severity or sea surface temperature, and drape other layers on them.
You can configure elevation surfaces for a scene, such as create, update, and remove, as well as control above and below ground navigation by opening the Map Properties dialog box for the scene. Right-click the scene node in the Contents pane, click Properties, and click the Elevation Surface tab.